If you are looking for fashion, lifestyle, food and culture, Seoul is your city !!! I have a hard crush on it, because it fulfilled all these expectations I had of an exciting city trip ! Seoul has got it all ! To western people unknown fashion brands, many and affordable, amazing food at almost every corner, and just amazing creative vibes. YOU GOTTA GO THERE, OK?! I have been to Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing, Vietnam, KL, and from all these cities, Seoul has the best vibe. It's urban/sophisticated/modern/traditional, you get your whole traditional 'oh-I'm-in-Asia' vibe PLUS this 'omg-Asia-is-so-modern' vibe.
Here is a list of where you should go:
- Stay at Vanilla Hostel 1, near Dongdaemeun, truly a gem for a cheap price !
- Go to Hongdae, the student area on weekdays to do some affordable and cool shopping, and on weekends to hook up with all the drunk kids (seriously, on a Sat night every single person will be drunk in this area haha). Where to go ? Just walk around, there are things to see everywhere ! Stylenanda is in this area, too, and don't worry it's not too big. Get off at Hongik University train station.
- Go to Itaewon for clubbing ! Behind Hamilton Hotel is a street full off bars, clubs, buzz and fun if you are looking for a night out ! Cake Shop is supposed to be the coolest club, but didn't get to go there. Heard that you eventually meet stars clubbing in Itaewon haha. The difference between a weekend night in Itaewon and Hongdae is probably that Itaewon is... more grown up. I guess Hongdae is all about getting drunk and drunk, and Itaewon is more like, you can have a talk with cool people between drinks.
- Go to Gangnam and take walks around. Don't worry, it's not fancy as described in travel guides. Actually Gangnam is really cool ! A lot of food options and all the major luxury and street brands available here, yo ! There are two areas that are worth being checked out, Apgujeong Rodeo Street (also name of the station, just get off and turn into the side streets. Do your research in advance and do use google maps or you end up somewhere haha). AND there is Sinsa-dong. Get off at Sinsa station, turn onto Dosan-Daero and then just get lost in the alleys. So many cafes, shops and restaurants. Don't forget to bring your money, a LOT of shopping can be made ! : D
- Go to Myongdong for the real big city buzz. It's gonna be crowded and loud. A lot of major cosmetic brands have different locations here, and because there is so much competition I guess there is always sale on something, which makes it the heaven for Korean cosmetic & beauty shopping ! You will also find all your high street brands like Zara & H&M here, and a lot of restaurants ! It's really mainstream but worth a visit. I also heard the best place for currency exchange is in this part of town, opposite the Chinese Embassy ! I got a pretty good rate there, so it's recommended.
- Go to Dongdaemeun for late night/wholesale shopping. But don't go where the tourists go, go where the wholesalers go, like U:US or APM Luxe/APM. You can't buy anything singurlarly but you definitely will see a lot of amazing items which you want so bad, but can't buy, unless you want to own it twice. From a buyer's view, Seoul wholesale buying is much more expensive than Guangzhou, but the quality of the items and the styles are much nicer. From a consumer's view, this is heavennnn ! Things are cheap for great quality and so much variation to choose from ! Don't forget to go to the Shoe wholesale market, it's heaven, I swear. Opposite Designmarket in the alley. It looks crap outside but they have really nice shoes. You just order your size and pick them up the next day. Korean sizes are shit though. 39 is more like 38.5, and I never get my size right : (
These are all the places I went to, and yeah, if you are planning to go to Korea, this might be helpful. Also find a friend there in advance who can show you all the amazing places to eat, because not everything stated online as good by tourists is good enough in the Korean sense. Do your research thoroughly or you end up wandering around getting frustrated because noone speaks English and a lot of signs aren't even in English. Also beware of Taxi drivers who try to rip you off by not turning on the taxi-meter. Take a photo of their cab ID and report them to the board of tourism, you can get 500$ is the report is righteous ! Remember where you started and where you dropped off. I read this online, so not sure whether it's true but would be good though, right ? Me and Yi got ripped off bad time from Dongdaemeun to Gangnam. 40.000 KRW !!!! That's like going to the airport I heard and the airport is faaaaaaar.
Ok anyway, done with my Seoul report, there will be a video following for people too lazy to read, and yeah, hope you all get the chance to discover Seoul on your own soon. I really hope I can go back asaaaapppp : )